The purpose of this study is to review the background, safety, and potential complications of silicone breast implants. Relevant studies were identified using a MEDLINE search of the English-language literature, followed by a manual search of the references of all identified articles and a review of abstracts from the 1992 American College of Rheumatology meeting. Review of the literature suggests that silicone does not appear to fulfill the characteristics of an ideal synthetic soft-tissue substitute, although it may be the best substitute available. Silicone breast implants are associated with local inflammation and tissue fibrosis with breast fibrous capsule contracture developing in 10% to 40% of the patients. There are no epidemiologic data that establish a direct link between silicone and cancer or rheumatic disease. However, scleroderma appears to be overrepresented among the published articles on patients with silicone breast implants and rheumatic disease. Autoantibodies of unclear significance may be found in 5% to 30% of women with silicone breast implants. Large, longitudinal, population-based studies that include patients who have had implants for 5 to 15 years may be necessary to fully understand the relationship of silicone implants and immune dysfunction.
(Arch Intern Med. 1993;153:2638-2644)